Is the Apology an Art Form?

It's been the buzz of the blogosphere and media lately about The Apology. Lots of bloggers are talking about it and the media is focusing in on various apologies from the sports community to politics. Even religions are sporting this concept of how to apologize. It's simple really and no one should be marketing The Apology. Just when you think everything in the world has been sold for a profit, they come up with this. Here it is friends, the basics of an apology. I know because I've had to make MANY in my life time. I have received real apologies and half baked apologies, and raw non essential, passive apologies with no substance whatsoever. I've also given many of those myself.

1. First of all, be honest with yourself. Own up to what your responsibility is. Face it head on and allow Christ to look at your part, in full!

2. Fully confess to God. Let your heart be broken wide open, just like that alabaster box Mary had. Broken and spilled out. All of it, not just a part of it.

3. Pray for those you need to apologize to. I mean sincerely pray for them. Even if they had a part to apologize for too. Genuinely pray for them. When you know your heart has fully come to grips with what you've done and you can honestly pray for the other person without any animosity whatsoever, then I believe your heart will be free.

4. Don't expect them to reciprocate the apology. They may not be ready yet. But that's not your part to deal with. You can't force them to be ready.

5. Be willing to apologize even if they are not.

6. Include the entire apology, not just "I'm sorry" You need to be specific. Validate their pain by expressing to them that you understand how your actions(or lack thereof) has hurt them.

7. Don't hold back.

8. Don't be afraid to cry.

9. If you attempt a hug or hold out your hand for to shake on it and they don't budge, it's ok. Don't be offended.

10. Don't expect them to forgive you.

11. If you live near each other, go to them in person. Don't settle it via email. The integrity of a restored friendship deserves an In Person apology. Call first to let them know you're coming to talk.

12. If you don't live near them, call them.

13. If you owe an apology to a large group of people that is spread far and wide, then I can understand an email apology. Use your words carefully, not as though you're a speech writer just trying to score points with a crowd, but be wise and read your email several times to be sure it's pleasing to Christ our Lord. Pray before you send it.

14. Some people feel the need to make a very public apology. Be sure your motives are in the right place. Some will apologize just so they can move on for ulterior motives. (Refer to the first tip above.) A public apology should be extremely genuine. If it's not, no one will believe you and the trust will be crushed even further.

15. If you're not ready to own up, be sincere, and apologize, then don't. Don't force it. It must be genuine. Take more time to pray about it.

16. Don't expect to ever be trusted again. This is hard, but we really need to realize that we may not be able to win back trust from someone we have hurt. If you do regain their trust, don't ever violate it again.

17. Apologize by blog? I am hesitant on this, but have done it and did so below. If it must be done that public use discretion and preserve the integrity of those you have hurt. Sometimes a name will need to be mentioned, sometimes not. Be wise. Some apologies don't need to be that public if it compromises the person's integrity. Don't abuse the blogosphere with an apology about something that involves information the others don't need to know about.

18. Giving an apology doesn't mean you condone what they did on their part. An apology is what you need to do for your relationship with Christ and the person you hurt.

So how do you rebuild a relationship that has been broken? How do you build trust again after losing it? The answer is simple, time. It takes time to rebuild and it just may never be the same again and that's ok too. Life continues to move forward and we can't live in the past. If your spouse suffered a massive stroke or were in some kind of accident and lost all memories then you wouldn't live the rest of your life living in the past. You would move forward and build new memories.

As I stated above, I have needed to make apologies and have made some really cruddy ones too. I wrote a basic apology to my readers here at AGM when a few of us readers came out of a legalistic fellowship. We wanted our readers to know we had realized the error of our ways in how we wrote and we proceeded to delete articles that we felt had lacked grace.

I'd like to now go a step further. I, for many years, was arrogant. When the ladies at The Sarah Home told me, "You have been so different since January. A complete difference. It was your way or the highway." I cringed. I cried. They were right. I was a wolf in sheep's clothing and I realized it. All I could do was whisper out, through tears, "I'm so sorry." With a lump in my throat, I said it again. I then apologized for being so legalistic in the way I taught them before. I realized that I had placed much too high of an expectation on these young Christians. My measuring rod was much too measured out and they could not live up to it. I asked them if they would be patient with me now as I grow in the Lord and seek a renewed mind. Now I want to grow WITH them. Before It was all about ME 'telling' THEM how to live. Christ transformed that to "Lisa, they are my daughters and your sisters. Grow in grace, together." They graciously accepted my apology and I am now rebuilding trust with them. This time without a measuring rod.

My next step of going further with this is with you. My readers and my fellow bloggy friends. My sisters in Christ all over the world and who are all in different denominations too. For too many years I have avoided some blogs based on the denominations and various other reasons from what your favorite TV show is to what music you have on your playlist. Yes, really petty isn't it? I was petty. I was a religious pharisee out to "right the entire world" with what I wrote about on my blogs. It really was my way or the highway. I am so sorry. I have gossiped about you and I have refused to be a part of some of your groups for very wrong reasons.

When we left the fellowship we were in before, my eyes began to see things very differently. I began to see myself for what I really was and I didn't like it one bit. Although I do disagree with the legalism in that place, I adore the people. They helped me through the most difficult time in my life. I don't openly discuss on this blog which fellowship it is and I won't. Our departure from that fellowship ripped apart some of the people there and we never meant for that to happen. Very few knew the real reason why we left and to the rest they had no idea. Yet it still hurt them. I am sorry you have been hurt by our departure. My comment about legalism is not directed toward the people, but the man made system.

While we left that fellowship, I also saw another friend going in a direction that really hurt me personally. Regardless of whether I agree with her or not, I still love her. More than words can say. I had to make a decision about us serving together in ministry. I didn't handle it in the best way. I tried to work behind the scenes and not be public, but none the less the readers could see something was changing. It hurt everyone, including me and my family. We've all suffered pain, to varying degrees, but still pain. My life turned completely upside down in every aspect of my life. I lost many friends and hurt many people. Both by how I lived in legalism over the past 15 years and during the transition of coming out of legalism. I can't change who I used to be. Prayerfully. that old Lisa won't always be in the hearts and minds of who I have hurt over the years.

I am not perfect, but I am growing. My growth is no longer about what *I* can do to grow, but what Christ is allowing to take place in me. It's all about Him. Jesus is showing me how NOT to live by a measuring rod. Rather he is showing me how to love Him and how to let Him live in me so He can allow His plan to take place in my life. I can't measure up to anyone's measuring rod, nor His. Not that I am living in complete defiance on purpose. I don't want to abuse His grace. But I also don't want to use His written Word as a weapon against other people or to measure them up with. That's not my place.

My sisters and friends, I am deeply sorry. My mind and heart is in a continuing process of being renewed by Christ and I still battle legalism from time to time. Unwinding the legalistic threads that have been woven into our lives and the lives of our children will take time. I only ask that you be patient with me as I grow.

Sisterlisa is a homeschooling mom of four children and married to a ministry leader of a Rescue mission. She is the owner of Growing in Grace Magazine and AGMinistries.

9 *click here* to dialogue with us:

{ Pure Perseverance } at: September 16, 2009 at 3:33 PM said...

Oh Father, thank you for your beautiful way of love and sanctification. Be blessed, Lisa! I will keep you in my prayers.

{ Martha } at: September 16, 2009 at 3:58 PM said...

Bravo! If I didn't have a laptop on my (guess where) lap, I'd give you a standing ovation. We must start from rock bottom, humbly give our apologizes, and then move on from there with NO LOOKING BACK.

Lift up your chin, learn the lesson, and move on ;) we're rooting for you and your spiritual growth!!

{ Sisterlisa } at: September 16, 2009 at 4:07 PM said...

Martha, you're silly. It's not me. Give God the standing ovation for what He's doing in my life. Digging our roots isn't easy and sometimes they hurt, but God is showing me how to look at those roots with His blood covering them. Sometimes the roots are there from someone else and sometimes we put them there ourselves.

{ Teri Lynne } at: September 16, 2009 at 5:02 PM said...

Compelling and honest ... thank you.

{ Lacy } at: September 16, 2009 at 6:32 PM said...

"But I also don't want to use His written Word as a weapon against other people or to measure them up with. That's not my place."

Would you mind expounding a bit more on this, please? =)

~ Lacy
A Godly Maiden

{ Marsha } at: September 16, 2009 at 9:22 PM said...

Thank you for this Sisterlisa. Well said.

I always add, "Will you please forgive me?" after I state how I wronged them. If they don't forgive, I've done everything I could possibly do.

You are so right, apologizing is an art form. Most of the time it's more like, I'm sorry I got caught.

You're precious sweet sister! A fragrant aroma. Keep cultivating the soil of your heart.


{ Sisterlisa } at: September 16, 2009 at 9:29 PM said...


When I have used the written Word as a weapon against other people. To point out their sin in them then refuse to fellowship with them after measuring them up against it. Especially if they refuse to 'get in line' with it. That's just not my place to say to someone. If we are really dead to self and Christ lives in us, then they will see Him. Not us. That's the whole point. To see Him. He will do the rest. Who are we to think the Almighty God 'needs' US to beat the sin out of people with verbal reprimands, pelting them with scripture? He put Saul in his place all on his own, he can do the same today. I would much rather just die already and let Christ live in me. Otherwise it just leaves me in here and self-lisa is just not a good person. I'm a sinner and my best righteousness is but filthy rags.

{ Sisterlisa } at: September 16, 2009 at 9:36 PM said...

True Marsha, I have asked that and been denied and yet have asked it and it was granted. My step mom taught me to say "Will you forgive me." After my dad died she and I had a rift between us. I was a stupid naive teenager and when I went to reconcile she was quite angry with me. Rightfully so too. All I could think to say was 'Will you forgive me?" and her heart softened right away. She then saw my little baby girl in the car seat and said "Well I always told you your hips were built for birthing." haha ok I will definitely accept that as an "Yes I forgive you" ;O)

And if they don't then you've at least done your part.

{ devildogwife } at: September 16, 2009 at 10:42 PM said...

May God bless you as you seek to honor Him.

Asking for forgiveness is difficult, but forgiving ourselves often takes even more work.

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